Tortured American Pastor: 'I Did Not Recognize Myself'

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American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran, has been able to get a letter to his family.

Abedini is serving eight years in an Iranian prison for his Christian faith. The letter is written in the margins of newspaper scraps, and tells of abuse and torture.

He said he did not recognize himself after being beaten. He also expressed concern for his wife and children back in the United States.

"My hair was shaven, under my eyes were swollen three times what they should have been, my face was swollen," he wrote. Read the entire letter here.

The American Center for Law and Justice has been calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to put pressure on the Iranian government to secure his release.

Sign the American Center for Law and Justice's
petition to free
American Pastor Saeed here.

On Friday, the State Department released a statement by Kerry calling for the pastor's immediate release.

"I am disturbed by reports that Mr. Abedini has suffered physical and psychological abuse in prison, and that his condition has become increasingly dire," Kerry said. "Such mistreatment violates international norms as well as Iran's own laws.

"I am also troubled by the lack of due process in Mr. Abedini's case and Iran's continued refusal to allow consular access by Swiss authorities, the U.S. protecting power in Iran," he said.

"I welcome reports that Mr. Abedini was examined by a physician and expect Iranian authorities to honor their commitment to allow Mr. Abedini to receive treatment for these injuries from a specialist outside the prison," he said. "The best outcome for Mr. Abedini is that he be immediately released." Read the whole statement here. 

After months of urging the State Department to take action, ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said he was pleased with Secretary Kerry's statement.

"By becoming directly involved in this case, the U.S. sends a powerful message to Iran and our allies - our government will not stand by and abandon one of our own." he said.

Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, also said she was "very encouraged" by the statement.

"I am very happy to read that although Secretary Kerry has asked for medical treatment for Saeed, he does not stop there, and states that the best outcome is Saeed's immediate release," she said.

"Saeed and I are both proud to be Americans," she said. "I am hopeful that this will put more pressure on the Iranian government to act and free Saeed so he can return to our family in the United States."

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